Weddings are probably the most photographed event in a person's life. Of all the decisions that go into planning a wedding, none is more anticipated than choosing the photographer. There is great anticipation and high expectations for the photographer to be able to document the event in a beautiful way. With such high expectations, there are many great moments that will be missed, no matter how talented the professional is or how many assistants they bring. If you have some basic skills and are willing to help out with your photography, you can make a difference for the bride and groom and help capture some of the pictures that are missed by the professionals. Here are a few tips and ideas to help you be an effective second shooter:
- Stay out of the paid photographer's way: Please be courteous to the professional and their job. This means a few things. First, stay out of his or her way. You wouldn't want someone stumbling through your cubicle disrupting your work, so give them plenty of room. This means staying away from their physical space as well as staying out of their shots. Photographers toting giant cameras in the background don't add to any picture! Remember that you will best serve the bride and groom by grabbing shots that the main photographer is too busy to get. If you hang around where the pro is shooting, you will do nothing more than duplicate his images, and probably not do as good of a job as they are.
Look for details: Often times, the Bride and family have gone through great pains in choosing and decorating the sanctuary and reception hall for their big event. The whirlwind of ceremony and friends makes it impossible to notice or enjoy the beauty of the environment. After it is all over, it is a great gift to them if they can have some images to showcase their hard work. Tight shots of the cake, punch, candles, or any of the decorations can work. It is important to get very tight and turn the items into abstract forms. Take a few seconds to concentrate on filling the frame and creating a pleasing shape in your viewfinder. After you take the picture, review your handiwork to make sure it is exposed well and there are no distracting elements creeping into the edge of the frame. If you see something wrong, adjust and retake the picture.
- At the reception, shoot away from the Bride: There is always such a flurry of activity around the bride, there are probably plenty of pictures being made of her. Walk around the room and see if you can get pictures of family and friends enjoying the party. The pro usually can't risk getting far from the bride in fear of missing a shot, so there are many interactions being missed throughout the room.Don't be too intrusive - it usually works to try to position yourself close to a group where you have an open sight line to faces. Then, it is just a matter of waiting for the right expression and snapping a shot. When you get a keeper or two of a group, move on and try to find other subjects. The family of the bride and groom will greatly appreciate being able to remember who all was at the wedding as everything is such a blur when it is happening.
Hang around the Grandparents: Pictures of the bride and groom greeting family, specifically grandparents, will be treasured by all. Pro photographers often miss these moments. Pick out the grandparents at the reception and keep your eye on them. When the bride and groom make their rounds, if the pro is not taking advantage of these moments, move in to take the picture.
- Don't forget about the groom. If you are in position, when the bride enters, try to get a few pictures of the groom's expression when she comes in. Again, it is a picture the photographers will miss and the family will love. At the reception, watch for interactions between the groom and his parents or new in-laws.
Get a mailing address of the bride or a close family member at the event. After it is over, whittle down your pictures to the best ones and burn them onto a CD for her.
Remember that the theme to all of these tips is to try to take pictures that are not being captured by the professional. Getting even a handful of keepers can be a tremendous gift to the new family.
~ Nate Griffin